Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog, Rips TV Critics at Adult Swim Panel

Jack McBrayer Adult Swim - P 2014
Courtesy of Adult Swim

Jack McBrayer Adult Swim - P 2014

Robert Smigel made haste in going for the jugular during his brief appearance in character, as acerbic canine puppet Triumph, at Saturday's Television Critics Association press tour.

"You sit on a couch watching TV 10 hours a day," he sneered, cigar dropping out of the puppet's mouth. "I hate to break it to you, that's not a job. It's a symptom of bipolar depressive disorder."

Calling out everyone in ballroom for their hero-worshiping of Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner, who appeared on stage earlier that morning, Triumph also explained TCA really stood for "the Triple Chin Association."

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Smigel quickly stepped out from behind the chair, stuffing Triumph in a plastic bag to join the panel with Jack McBrayer. The duo star in Adult Swim's The Jack and Triumph Show, premiering Feb. 20. It's the first big vehicle for the character, which Smigel first debuted on Late Night With Conan O'Brien back in 1997. "We don't do it that many times a year," he said. "When something worked [on Late Night] from the early days, you'd run it into the ground and then it would be over. I only do two or three a year. It stayed fresh for me. Hopefully people aren't tired of it."

The new life for Triumph, born of a Conan skit with McBrayer in 2012, is something of a first for Adult Swim. A full half-hour, it looks just like a broadcast multicamera sitcom.

"To us, the whole point is to jump into a format that seems kind of lame in 2015 and mess with it. I wouldn't call it a multicam parody, because we stick the convention, but we're definitely having fun with the conventions at the same time," added Smigel. "This is such an odd experiment to put Triumph in a scripted show to begin with, let alone a multicam."

There will also be moments where Triumph does his familiar berating of the seemingly unsuspecting, but that's something Smigel says is never truly unplanned.

"I never wanted to be an insult comic," he said, noting that everyone (like one particular TV critic in Saturday's crowd) is already prepared before they're insulted. "I don't take pleasure in hitting people who don't want to be hit."